Samsung workers claim job is making them sick with rare diseases

“When Han Hye-kyung finished high school and got a job at Samsung, her family celebrated with a barbecue,” Chico Harlan reports for The Sydney Morning Herald. “But within two years, she stopped menstruating. And then she couldn’t walk straight. And then doctors found a brain tumour, something she and her family claim came from toxins at a factory run by the South Korean tech giant.”

“Han and her mother are among a small group of Koreans who say there’s a dark side to this country’s most iconic conglomerate,” Harlan reports. “They say conditions at a Samsung Electronics production plant caused hundreds of rare diseases over the past two decades, some fatal, with most victims in their 20s or 30s.”

“Samsung and other chaebol, as the conglomerates are known, have long stood as the unassailable patriarchs of South Korea’s Third-World-to-riches rise. But in the past few months, lawmakers have demanded that Samsung provide an explanation for the spate of rare diseases,” Harlan reports. “Samsung promised compensation for victims but pointedly did not claim responsibility. Han and her mother, Kim Shi-nyeo, watched the announcement on an off-brand flat-screen at their rented apartment; Kim had sold nearly every Samsung product she owned because just looking at the logo made her angry.”

“Concern about Samsung’s factory conditions first surfaced seven years ago, when two former employees who had worked side by side, Hwang Yu-mi and Lee Suk-yeong, died of leukemia within months of one another. Hwang was 23, and her father, a taxi driver, felt the deaths couldn’t be a coincidence,” Harlan reports. “In the years since, about 200 other people have claimed sicknesses from Samsung production lines…”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Alasdair.D” for the heads up.]

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Foxconn workers talk about jobs, working conditions assembling iPhones and iPads – May 5, 2012
Foxconn glad Mike Daisey’s lies exposed; says media hasn’t gone far enough in reporting truth – March 19, 2012
Apple and the Daisey affair: Why did the company keep its silence, when it knew a year ago what we know now? – March 18, 2012
Apple firestorm leads Mike Daisey to change his ‘agony and ecstasy of Steve Jobs’ show – March 17, 2012
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Apple supplier Foxconn again lifts pay for China workers; 16-25 percent increase – February 17, 2012
FLA President: Foxconn factories ‘first-class; way, way above average’ – February 15, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook calls New York Times supplier report ‘patently false and offensive’ – January 27, 2012


  1. Awful.

    That’s odd…there was no mention of Apple in the headline, or even in the story itself…

    Wait—I see now. It’s not the New York Times, but the Sydney Morning Herald.

    1. If the factories involved made even one Apple product, say, a screw used in the hinge for the MacBook Air, this would be a national scandal. “APPLE KILLING ITS WORKERS!! BELOVED TECH GIANT ACTUALLY CRUEL UNFEELING MURDERER!!!!111”


    2. Chico Harlan is a correspondent for the Washington Post.

      The article appears here.

      I noticed the use of the word “while” in the article (“Han, who left Samsung in 2001, developed the menstruation problems while still at the company.”) and from my experience that word is not used down under so it sticks out like a sore thumb. The word “whilst” is used in lieu of while and you can see it being used in the comments section of the article linked by MDN.

      Hope you are doing well hannah

  2. Nothing to see here, is just samsung, not apple. No need to post apocalyptic news on the post or times, no need to make protest in from of any store. keep moving.

  3. “Workers at one of Apple’s manufacturing facilities are getting sick with rare diseases”

    There, fixed the headline… NOW it’ll get passed all over the interwebs.

    Now in the actual article you can say…

    Samsung, a company that makes electronic parts for Apple, is being accused of toxic working conditions at one of their electronics plants, causing some workers to get sick with rare diseases.

  4. Grr. There are enough carcinogens that no one needs more.

    I was really hoping the story was going to be milder, more tongue-in-cheek: “…rare diseases [respect for intellectual property, respect towards customers, transparency in legal matters, etc.]…”

    Forget the business ethics for a time, and let’s hope Samsung does the morally correct thing here and clean up their act while supporting those already affected.

  5. Kim had sold nearly every Samsung product she owned because just looking at the logo made her angry.

    I know the feeling.

    This situation is old and ongoing:

    Samsung says sorry and promises compensation to sick workers
    Samsung has said sorry and promised compensation to workers who have fallen ill after working for the company.

    Concerns about health risks in Samsung plants have been highlighted recently in “Another Promise”, a crowdfunded Korean movie telling the story of a worker at a “Jinsung” factory, based on the real-life story of a Samsung worker who died from a rare form of leukaemia.

    South Korean film spotlights claims of sickness linked to Samsung plants
    Another Promise mirrors man’s 10-year quest for truth over leukaemia death of daughter employed at electronics firm

    The 23-year-old had been diagnosed with a rare form of acute leukaemia 20 months earlier, a disease her father insists was caused by her exposure to hazardous chemicals at the Samsung plant in the city of Suwon…

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